Read the Capitol Hill Report
June 25, 2018
Neurology Well-represented at the AMA House of Delegates Annual Meeting
The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates annual meeting in Chicago wrapped up on June 13. The House of Delegates is the policymaking body of the AMA and is comprised of more than 600 delegates from state medical associations and national medical specialty societies. Delegates bring resolutions to the meeting on topics important to their states or specialties and the House debates them to determine which ones should be voted as official policy of the AMA.
It was a productive meeting for the AAN delegation, which co-sponsored four resolutions and participated in active debate on several Academy priorities. "The Academy and neurologists' presence was noticeable in this meeting," said delegation Chair Shannon Kilgore. "From working with other societies to craft language and cosponsor resolutions, to networking with our fellow neurologists representing state societies, to welcoming incoming and current resident neurologists to our deliberations, the AAN was able to extend the reach of our positions. As a small delegation, this collaboration was important to accomplishing common neurology goals." Dr. Kilgore represented neurology to the entire House of Delegates as Chair and Moderator of the Reference Committee on Public Health, and neurologist Joshua Cohen, MD, spoke to all delegates as Chair of the AMA Foundation.
A big thanks to the AAN delegation: Chair Shannon Kilgore, MD, FAAN; Delegates Nicholas Johnson, MD, FAAN, and Mark Milstein, MD, FAAN; Alternate Delegates Skip Davison, MD, FAAN, and Eddie Patton, MD, MS; Young Physician Delegate Ann Murray, MD; and Resident and Fellow Delegate Jonathan Santoro, MD.
- Close to fifteen resolutions addressed the high cost of prescription drugs. The AAN delegation cosponsored resolutions supporting reforms to the Orphan Drug Act, transparency for pharmacy benefit managers, and improving support for biosimilar development. The latter two resolutions were both adopted as AMA policy. The House voted for further study into potential changes to the Orphan Drug Act and that report will be shared at the 2018 interim meeting.
- Medical marijuana and opioids were also widely discussed. Delegates debated the importance of education for physicians and patients and the need for universal terms to describe the different types of medical cannabis products. The House also voted to remove barriers to opioid-use disorder treatment following an emotional speech from US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, about the impact the opioid epidemic has had in his own family. Psychiatrist and AMA President-elect Patrice Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, will continue to elevate this issue and other neuroscience priorities over the next year. AAN member David B. Watson, MD, FAAN, represents the Academy on the AMA Opioid Task Force.
- Delegates debated other hot topics throughout the meeting, including:
- Immigration: The AMA adopted new policy that opposes the practice of separating migrating children from their caregivers in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child's well-being and urges the federal government to withdraw its policy of requiring separation of migrating children from their caregivers. The AAN supports this policy to protect the neurologic health and well-being of migrant children.
- Gun violence: Delegates adopted comprehensive policy on gun violence that allows the AMA to support limits on access to firearms for persons with domestic violence records, recognize the role of firearms in suicides, advocate for schools to remain gun-free zones, oppose concealed carry reciprocity, and support bans on assault-type weapons, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines, and armor piercing bullets.
- Physician-assisted death: An AMA report on aid-in-dying was referred for further study. During the debate, delegates from several states and specialties cited the AAN's work on this topic as particularly thoughtful and well-developed policy on this topic.